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Landlord responsibilities

As you tentatively take your first steps towards renting out a property, you need to know what your landlord responsibilities are.

Before your tenants move into their new home, here are a few things you should know.

Landlord holding a model house and keys

 

Responsibilities of private landlords

When you’re starting out as a landlord, you need to make sure you’ve done the groundwork.

First off, you need to give your new tenant a copy of the government’s How to Rent guide. This applies for any new tenant renting after 2015.

Our guides on how to become a landlord and tenant rights are also worth a read.

When your tenant pays their deposit, you need to place it in a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. This is a legal requirement and ensures it’s kept safe and sound.

Take some time to read the statutory guidance about renting out a property. There may be different rules if you're renting to council tenants, so you need to fully understand these.

 

Safety responsibilities of the landlord

The day your tenants move in, you need to give them a copy of the Gas Safe certificate. From then on, you need to ensure checks are carried out every 12 months by a registered Gas Safe engineer.

You’re also responsible for making sure the property is safe for your tenant. Any furniture you provide must adhere to fire safety regulations, and you must assess the safety of the water in the premises.

If they contact you with any issues, you need to respond as soon as you reasonably can.

You have to give them 24 hours’ notice to come to the property, and it needs to be at a reasonable time of day for the tenant.

You also need to expect a reasonable level of wear and tear on the property when people are living there.

The longer they’re there, the greater the wear and tear, and that’s not something that should affect their deposit.

 

Commercial landlord responsibilities

Being a commercial landlord is a whole other kettle of fish compared with being a private landlord.

There tends to be quite a bit of overlap on what you and your tenant are responsible for.

With that in mind, you need to appoint a specialist solicitor to handle the contracts and give you both the lie of the land when it comes to responsibilities.

Having clear and defined contracts is essential for both you and your tenant.

And it’s worth learning more about commercial property insurance to make sure you have the right cover as a commercial landlord.

 

Landlord responsibilities for the property

Your tenant is responsible for keeping the property in a reasonable condition.

But whether you’re renting out private or commercial property, you’re still responsible for maintaining the building.

Should an issue with the building crop up, such as loose tiles or a bust boiler, you need to resolve it as soon as you can.

It might be worth considering taking out landlord boiler cover.

Having landlord home emergency cover can also help give you peace of mind in these situations.

If it’s something to do with the electrics or plumbing, it’s best to leave it to the professionals and you might want to hire a tradesperson. Ultimately, you have a responsibility to ensure your tenants are living in a safe home.

You also need to check the boiler once a year, along with any other items that need regular servicing.

You just need to organise it for a time that works for you and the tenant, giving them at least 24 hours’ written notice.

When your tenant moves in, you also need to test all the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

You’re responsible for the batteries in these, but it’s your tenant’s responsibility to test them. They need to do this regularly once they’re in and let you know if they stop working.

Also, when your tenant moves in, you need to supply them with an energy performance certificate for the property.

 

Landlord responsibilities for the garden

The responsibilities when it comes to the garden are fairly simple.

Your tenant is responsible for keeping it maintained so it’s not overgrown.

As a landlord, you’re responsible for the maintenance of the bigger things, such as fences, sheds and trees. If a tree poses a risk, you need to appoint a tree surgeon to fix it.

Although it should be pretty clear, on occasions there can be confusion over who looks after the different parts of the garden. You can include a garden clause in your contract with your tenant to cover garden maintenance, just for the avoidance of any doubt.

It could specify an expectation that the tenants mow the lawn every 2 weeks during the growing months, for example. Or carry out weeding in spring and autumn.

And remember, if you have anything valuable in your garden, it might be worth taking a look at insuring your outbuildings.

 

Reviewing the rent

The rules regarding rent increases depend on whether the tenancy is for a fixed term or is reviewed periodically on an ongoing basis.

If it’s a fixed-term tenancy, it then depends on what the particular contract states. The contract might allow you to increase the rent at any time. Or it might stipulate that it can’t be put up until the end of the fixed-term.

In the case of a periodic tenancy agreement, you’re usually able to put the rent up once a year.

Whatever you do, though, make sure that any proposed rent increase is reasonable and proportionate. If the tenant feels it isn’t, they can take their case to a tribunal.

 

Do I need landlord insurance?

When it comes to home insurance, your tenants are responsible for their own contents and may take out tenants insurance, but the buildings insurance side of things is down to you.

Take a look around for the best landlord insurance policies.

It’s unlikely that standard buildings insurance policy such as the one you have for your own home would suffice for a property that’s rented out.

Compare home insurance quotes

 

Are landlords responsible for ovens?

The safety of gas and electrical appliances including ovens is the role of the landlord.

You need to arrange and pay for safety checks and repairs when needed at least every 12 months.

These checks need to be carried out by a tradesperson registered with the Gas Safe Register. You need to give your tenant a copy of the check too.

 

Are landlords responsible for pest control?

If there's a pest situation, such as mice or wasps, it's up to the landlord to sort the issue out as soon as possible. You must arrange and pay for the removal of the pests.

As a landlord if you have home emergency insurance, this should cover pest infestations - although it might not pay out for repairs to anything damaged by the pests.

 

Is a landlord responsible for tenants behaviour?

A landlord isn't responsible for nuisance tenants, such as those causing repeated loud noises or leaving rubbish out.

However, you're usually be expected to help to solve the problem, which is often via a local council. You should also carry out checks beforehand such as references from previous landlords.

 

Who is responsible for mould - the landlord or tenant?

A landlord is responsible for keeping a property free from mould. But the tenant must also make sure they're doing everything possible to reduce the risk of mould.

This includes keeping the property well ventilated. But they can't be expected to follow unreasonable demands from a landlord, such as keeping the windows open in the winter.

There are more details about how to prevent mould and how landlords can fix the problem on the Shelter website.

Mould is an issue where there can often be an overlap between landlord and tenant responsibilities. You may need to seek specialist advice before acting to find out who needs to do what.

 

Is a landlord responsible for a water leak?

Landlords are responsible for the building and this includes any leaks from water pipes. They need to fix the problem and carry out any repairs as soon as possible.

However, if it's something like a tap that's been left on by accident it can be harder to resolve. In cases like this it's a good idea to have accidental damage insurance to pay out for any damage created by the leak.

 

What are the fire safety regulations for landlords?

Landlords have a legal duty to adhere to basic fire safety principles. This includes providing a working smoke alarm on each storey of the building.

A carbon monoxide alarm must be installed in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance, for example a wood burning stove.

Tenants must have access to escape routes at all times. Fire alarms and extinguishers must also be provided if the property is a house in multiple occupation (HMO). It is an HMO if at least three tenants live there, forming more than one household, and they share facilities.

Landlords are also expected to carry out a fire risk assessment, and to review it every 1-2 years. A fire safety professional can be employed to do this.

You must test all the alarms when someone new moves in. This ensures they’re in good working order and should be done on day one of a tenancy or before. 

Alarms can either be mains or battery operated. But if they’re battery operated, they need to be checked regularly.

From then on, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to test the alarms and make sure they’re working. Ideally this should be done on a monthly basis. If any alarms need new batteries, or the alarms need to be replaced, the tenant should contact the landlord to replace them.

To check landlord responsibilities on this topic, read the GOV.UK booklet.

Fire safety regulations for commercial landlords are likely to be different to a private landlord’s responsibilities.

Who’s in charge of what safety precautions may depend on what’s written in the lease. However, tenants of commercial premises are likely to be responsible for fire safety and for carrying out a fire risk assessment.

 

What are the furniture and furnishings fire safety regulations?

This applies to landlords letting a furnished property. It covers furniture such as sofas and beds, but basically all furniture and upholstery. It all needs to meet minimum fire safety standards.

Any furniture and upholstery you’re leaving in the property should have original fire safety tags still attached.

Firesafe explains the legislation on its website.

You should arrange a fire risk assessment to check whether a property is safe. This should be done by a professional, especially if it’s an HMO.

 

What do I need to know about fire extinguishers as a landlord?

Fire extinguishers need to be checked every year.

Checks need to be carried out by a fire extinguisher service engineer. You can buy ‘service-free’ extinguishers. But landlords still need to carry out checks in line with the manufacturer’s guidance.

If your property is an HMO, you’ll need to have a fire extinguisher on each floor. A fire blanket is required in the kitchen. 

Take time to properly assess fire hazards in the property.

For example:

  • Ensure there are no fuse boxes hidden under coats
  • Ideally use paint on walls instead of wall paper
  • Clear the exits of clutter or furniture
  • Use exterior doors that can be opened from the inside, without a key
 

What are the electrical safety regulations for landlords?

As a landlord, you have a duty to ensure that electrical equipment in your property is safe.

To do this, you need to have them checked by a competent electrician every five years. The electrician will give you a certificate.

You'll need to share a copy with your tenant (within 28 days of the assessment), as well as the local authority if it requests one.

If the inspection highlights that work needs doing, it must be done within 28 days. Both the tenant and local authority must have written confirmation that the work has been done within 28 days.

 

What are the gas safety regulations?

Gas safety regulations for landlords can be found under the piece of law titled Gas Safety Regulations 1998. A reader-friendly summary can be found on the Gas Safe Register website.

Landlords need to ensure gas appliances, flues, chimneys and fittings are all working correctly and efficiently. Here are the main points to note:

  • A Gas Safe-registered engineer performs annual checks on the property (boiler, pipes, appliances)
  • A copy of the landlord gas safety record must be given to the tenant within 28 days
  • You must maintain all the gas appliances and pipework, keeping it safe for your tenants